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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

Year End Kickoff

Around nine I was coming out of a strange high kick fantasy when the sun had shone brilliantly through my windows. The gradation was a dazzling mix of gold and yellow, then finally bright yellow that permeated through the thin folds of my eyelids. And then as I was rolling over on my left side, trying to hold on to the last images of that wet dream, I heard a familiar faint cry of pleasure mixed with pain.  It had to be my Chinese neighbors, I said to myself.  For them it only takes 5 minutes to do the "do," so no sleep was lost on my part, I had a peaceful morning. Around noon I knew I would reward them back with some real rumpus after mom swung by.

Rolling back over on my back, I rubbed the smoothness of my paunch, thoughts of what to eat for breakfast shuffled through my mind. I was hungry and I wanted something heavy, but my bed was so comfortable I couldn't pull up.  Just five more minutes I thought to myself. Since I had a gig that morning I thought I could swing over by the local eatery to grab a grilled steak platter combo with chicken and rice. I did, and it was good, as usual. Come rain sleet or shine, the food in Japan is good all the time, I shake my head.

On a cultural note, I was pondering over my steak combo what to do for the holidays. I usual put off traveling until around Feb. when things calm down. 2011 is looking to be a local one for me, again. I'll focus on the cultural aspects this time, too. This year I will do "Oseibo" or year-end gift-giving. Japan has two major gift giving seasons, Oseibo and Ochugen( mid-summer gift giving). The last time I did an Oseibo was back in 2008. I was a member of an English/Japanese speaking circle in Tokyo for a short time. I gave out several bars of Ghana chocolate to everyone in the circle, which took everyone by surprise. They didn't expect I would know about such a custom. Maybe it was the type of gift I gave….( they were 105 yen per bar). According to the custom, the price tag determines the level of the relationship; most expensive would usually go to your boss.

In China there's a custom where you keep the price tag on the product you purchased as a gift. This shows the receiver how much he/she is liked by the giver. Of course in Western countries we remove the price tag as a manner. Well, I forgot to remove the tags on my candy bars. Nobody made a stink about it, just the usual Japanese smile and "arigato."

This Christmas I won't do anything special, but work. Work is always special. I love work. Billy called from Alaska asking whether the Japanese celebrate Xmas or not. I answered, "no!" "why?" he asked. "Japan was never founded on Christian principles and Western religious fundamentalism, that's why," I answered back. This is Asia!  But, I continued, Japan is no longer her former self, she is a prostitute for America.   Now, we can officially say, Christmas is a part of Japanese culture.   Now, we have Japanese Santas who dress up in the red costumes and run around with gifts.    This is Asia.  Now....Oh, boy!  What's next????   


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